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When the writer struggled with reading, it seemed like everyone was willing to help her improve except her teacher

There I was, sitting in my second-grade classroom in the School of the Blessed Sacrament. I was in the front of the room, crisscross applesauce on the yellow square of the rainbow rug—my favorite color. I was holding my Charlotte’s Web book. I heard one of my classmates read aloud. I was silently wishing I was the one reading. I looked around the room and saw my tiny gray desk with my pink pencil case on top. Yellow was rather close to the teacher, so I could smell my teacher’s lemon perfume.

My teacher’s name was Mrs. Romeo. Mrs. Romeo had long brown hair and brown eyes. She was obsessed with her cat, Obby, and would talk about him every day. She had pearly white teeth and always had a big smile on her face, but she had favorites. I was not one of them, but she liked me.

This was one of my worst years at Blessed Sacrament. It was not that I did not have any friends, or that I got bullied. It was because I felt excluded from our class read-aloud. In second grade, I was not a great reader. I struggled to read chapter books.

When I was in kindergarten, I was the first one in my class to read 100 books. That was a big achievement for me. In kindergarten, I felt I was the best reader in my class. Why did it go downhill from there? I wondered.

It all started that day my teacher said that we were going to read Charlotte’s Web. We all gathered up on the rug and my teacher gave out parts. I put my hand up, desperate to be chosen for a part. A couple days later, I was finally chosen. Yes, I thought. I stood up in front of the class.

I fumbled, “T-h-a-t is w-why you wi-will ne-n-nev-nev—”

“Never,” Mrs. Romeo interrupted.

I stuttered on every part, and my teacher had to help on almost every word.

Why can’t I be like my classmates? I thought. I wish I could read like them.

Because I stuttered on every word, I was not chosen again for a long time. And when I was chosen, I still stuttered. Even if I tried my hardest, I had to get help from Mrs. Romeo or another classmate.


My classmates helped me when I could not read a word. When I would read and I got stuck, they would call out the word and I would keep reading. I liked how my classmates would help even if I did not know them as well as others. My parents were also extremely supportive. They knew that the book was way above my reading level and above some of my other classmates’ too. They tried to find a way to help me improve my reading skills. My mom tried to read out loud with me, but I preferred reading in my head. The only person who did not seem to help with this situation was Mrs. Romeo. She would not try to improve my reading. Mrs Romeo did not seem to help me in any way.

At lunch one day, I was sitting with my friends Colleen and Danielle. We were talking about Play-Doh. Then I said, “Do you notice that I don’t get picked to read aloud at all?”

“Yes,” they both said. “Jinx.”

The boys overheard this conversation, and J.P. said, “She also yells at me for asking someone to help me, but all the girls are helping each other.”

“I did notice that, but why?” I said, a little confused. It was a comforting thought to know that I was not the only one that did not like the way the teacher treated my classmates and me.

When I was reading I felt embarrassed, and I thought this changed the way people thought of me. I thought I was the worst reader in the world.

For the rest of second grade, my parents came up with a plan. We got a tutor after school. I was mad at my parents at first because I thought it was weird and that people would laugh at me. But then I realized that my tutor was seeing me at home so no one would know about her. I also took a test at the Department of Education to try and find out why I was struggling with reading. It was a long test and it seemed weird. After the test, I went back to school and people asked where I had been. I wanted to keep it a secret, so I said nothing. When we finally got the test results back from the Department of Education over the summer, we realized I needed extra help at school too.

When third grade started, I felt scared because people would find out I had a tutor. I didn’t want people to know I had a tutor because they might think I was dumb. During school, I had to leave the room to work with the tutor. I had to take tests in another classroom and go to her after school. I felt different and frustrated because everyone knew I needed help.

Turns out, it was one of the best things that has happened in my life so far. My tutor’s name was Ms. Susan. She had curly blonde hair and glasses. She made me feel joyful. She made the lessons fun and gave me treats. Also, I did not feel alone because I worked with two other boys who struggled with reading and spelling. I worked on my reading skills over the next couple years to get on the same reading level as everyone else.

After all of this hard work, it finally paid off. I am now able to read chapter books at grade level! I also realized that no one cares how well you read. They care about how you treat them and others. Also, that everyone struggles with something and you are not alone. I feel I have improved a lot the past couple of years, but there is still much more to learn.

Sophia Hammond
Sophia Hammond, 11
New York, NY

Ashley Jun
Ashley Jun, 13
Short Hills, NJ